Any time you say the words “mass shooting” you’re talking about America.
The US is one of the only countries that doesn't require you to have a license to purchase a gun, doesn't require you to take a safety test about your gun, and doesn't check the mental health of gun buyers according to the NY Times article How To Buy A Gun In Fifteen Countries. To combat the increasing rate of school shootings politicians have proposed everything from arming teachers to bulletproof backpacks — everything except restricting gun sales or ownership — but perhaps we can find some rational gun laws we all agree on.
Raising the age limit to buy a gun, for example. If there’s anything the Parkland shooting has taught us, it’s that a psychotic 19-year-old should not have the ability to purchase a gun. One way we could inhibit potential shooters from obtaining firearms would be banning someone under the age of 21 from buying a gun.
The LA Times states that Florida has already passed a measure that raises the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21. If laws like these were enacted everywhere we might have been able to prevent some of the estimated 1,625 mass shootings in the US since 2012, with death tolls around 1,862 people, and an estimated 6,529 wounded.
I’ve have had the unique experience of living in Australia, which had a mass shooting 22 years ago resulting in the deaths of 35 people. Australian government decided that they would not allow their citizens to live in peril when there was something they could do, and enacted strict gun laws. Since then there have been no mass shootings, crime rates have dropped, and in 2014 their murder rate was 1 killing per 100,000 people – 5 times less than the U.S. (fortune).
If the right to bear arms is costing America 33,000 lives every year, we have to think about what’s more important: guns, or the lives of our people.
Finally, I think we can all agree that people with mental illnesses are not fit to own ammunition or firearms. The University of Texas shooting, Virginia Tech massacre, and the Sandy Hook massacre are all confirmed to have had shooters with mental illnesses or ailments. If we increase background checks to include mental illness tests we can reduce the chance of people with mental illnesses obtaining guns.
The path forward will be difficult, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. We can create a nation that will enable our children to live free from fear, and maybe in the future when you hear the words mass shooting, your mind won't jump to America.